Dear Mac

Recently my Mac died, probably as the result of too many Minecraft video exports. Yeah, I know, but I can’t help it. I have an 8 year old daughter, and there’s nothing that excites her more than having her own YouTube channel with really terrible Minecraft videos that she and I make which I am absolutely NOT going to link to here.

My Mac is a 2011 Mac mini, and it’s not the most powerful computer in the universe. It actually does have discrete graphics though, albeit a Radeon HD 6630M with 256 MB of RAM. I don’t know if it’s the GPU, the CPU, or the 12 GB of RAM that’s the constraint, but when I’m exporting video to YouTube from Screenflow, my computer goes about 10 minutes before it decides to melt into a pile of molten silver and black aluminum and plastic.

It’s never actually completed the melting process, but that’s not for lack of trying. It whooshes and roars like a jet taxiing for takeoff, and it sounds like that for almost an hour while it tries to export 20 minutes worth of Minecraft-themed blackmail material.

The point, though, isn’t how weak my Mac is, and how unsuited it is to making dubious gameplay videos for my daughter’s amusement. The point is how much I missed it while it was off having its logic board replaced, presumably with one bugged to Hades and back by the NSA.1

Tim Cook may think the iPad Pro is a PC replacement for many people, and maybe it is. I’m just absolutely, positively not one of them. Not now. Maybe never, until iOS and iPad can handle some of the things that I like to do. Melting my logic board in the name of Minecraft bonding time with my daughter is one of them. Using Lightroom and Photoshop on a computer with a huge screen that I can really see what I’m doing to the pixels in my photos is one of them.2 Recording my Skype conversations and my own mic at the same time is another. And being able to control how my device is backed up is another big one that iPad can’t do on its own, other than iCloud backups. I just don’t trust iCloud backups enough for that to be my only backup solution. And finally, you can’t program in Xcode on the iPad. It’s just not possible.

I will say this: the list of things that I can only do on my Mac is shrinking. But those few things that are left are really important. As Allister Jenks put it, they’re hobby killers if you have to give those particular capabilities up.

I’m really not trying to make a political statement. I’m not a grumpy old man, yelling at the cloud about kids and their mobile phones. I use my iPhone more than any other computer I’ve ever owned. I hosted the Pocket Sized Podcast for a couple years, focusing on iOS devices, and at times I even advocated on the podcast the possibility of iOS replacing the Mac for many or most people. I just can’t actually live that way. And if I can’t live that way, there are probably still a lot of other people who can’t live that way either.

Someday in the future, the Mac will die or will at least become insignificant for most people. I just hope that day doesn’t come too soon. It’s impossible to overstate how much I love my Mac.

  1. I’m kidding, of course, but given that they are known to intercept hardware shipments to targets of interest in order to install spyware on them, it is an amusing consideration. 
  2. Not to mention storing all my Nikon photos that I want to work on, in addition to having locally backed up copies of all my family photos.